Dublin greyhound focus: What's the drill with Shelbourne Park and Harold's Cross?
In the latest of our greyhound stadium profiles, we tell you all you need to know about the two venues for top-class greyhound racing in the capital: Shelbourne Park and Harold's Cross.
What’s the deal?
I can sense, from that off-brown anorak around your shoulders, that you're into your sports history. Right?
Break it to me gently, man.
Well, greyhound racing has been taking place in Dublin since the 1920s. Shelbourne Park hosted its first race on 14 May 1927, making it a historic venue in the story of Irish greyhound racing - that was the first greyhound race in the 26 counties, as it was then, with Belfast just pipping Dublin to the overall Irish honours by a paltry month.
Okay, and what about Harold's Cross?
It doesn’t lose out by much in the tradition stakes – the first meeting at Harold’s Cross took place in April 1928, and two of the greatest of them all, Mick The Miller and Spanish Battleship, both raced around the track. Mick The Miller won the Spring Cup at Harold’s Cross in May 1929, won the English Derby in ‘29 and 1930, while Spanish Battleship won the Derby three times in a row in the 1950s, with two of those successes coming at Harold’s Cross. All in all you should be able to breathe in all that history if you decide to head along.
Sounds good, but I can be hard to please – what else can I expect?
In addition to the top-class racing, you mean? Right, well, both stadiums have exceptional catering facilities on site. At Shelbourne there’s Café Barconi and a Bistro No 6 for some quicker bites, as well as not one, not two, but four different bars! There’s plenty of places to, y’know, study the form at Harold’s Cross too. And if it’s something a bit more upmarket you’re after, there’s a fantastic Dobbins restaurant in both stadiums, with full table d’hote service. The €29.99 per person admission-plus-four-course-meal special offer at Harold’s Cross (pictured below) looks a steal. All of which is sure to impress the missus or, more importantly, the mother-in-law.
I’m an out-of-towner I’m afraid. How do I get there?
Couldn’t be simpler. Shelbourne is very handy for the city centre – it’s just around the corner from Grand Canal Dock, a hen’s race from Lower Mount Street and Ballsbridge. There’s parking for 240 cars on site too, if you’re on the ball enough to get there early. For Harold’s Cross, look for the N81 from the city and it’s only a mile or so out there on the left hand side. If you’re travelling by bus, it’s on the 16, 16A and 49 routes. And if you’d prefer to have some assistance every step of the way, there are detailed maps available on the new Irish Greyhound Board app, which you can download for free over here.
When’s the best night to go?
Well, when it comes to greyhound racing in Dublin, you can do a pretty mean impersonation of Our Lord and only rest when it comes to Sunday. That’s right – there’s racing six nights a week in the capital. They race Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at Harold’s Cross, and on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights at Shelbourne Park. Gates open at 6.30pm each evening in both stadiums.
What’s the highlight?
They don’t come any bigger than the Irish Derby, the final of which takes place at Shelbourne Park each September. The Champion Stakes in July is another massive night on the Shelbourne calendar. Over at Harold’s Cross they're not short of big race nights either - they host the Puppy Derby, Puppy Oaks and Grand National each year.
And the damage?
Plenty of value to be had. €10 for the adults, €5 for students and OAPS and €3 for children under 12.
For details and information on fixtures, tickets and a whole lot more, about Shelbourne Park and Harold’s Cross Stadium and the other 17 stadia around Ireland, check out www.igb.ie.